The mind's role.

Learning about viola technique from everyday experiences is not uncommon, if you have a creative mind and are open to exploring. See, a few weeks ago, I visited my dental hygienist for my regular teeth cleaning. She mentioned that while my teeth and gums, in general, were in good health, she could tell I was right-handed and using too much pressure when brushing, because my gums were starting to recede a bit on my right side only (apparently left-handed people tend to brush more vigorously on their left sides!). I asked her if it was dangerous, and she said no, but that if I changed my brushing technique, I could keep the gums from receding further.

She suggested a new brushing technique. Instead of gripping the brush and going back and forth vigorously (as I’ve done since I started brushing my teeth), she wants me to lightly hold the brush (with as little effort as an ideal bow hold!!), angle the bristles up slightly, and brush in small circles.

Next time you go to brush your teeth, try doing it differently than you normally do. It requires a boatload of concentration to change your technique, because it’s just so effortless to do it as you've always done, which in my case is scrub-a-dub-dubbing back and forth.

Here’s the key point— because I am invested in my long term oral health, I have actively been thinking about this new technique every time I brush my teeth. It’s not always easy, and sometimes out of sheer frustration I revert to old habits, but I know that with vigilance I will slowly change my tooth-brushing technique to something that will serve me better in the long run.

It’s just like any technique your teacher asks you to address. The only way it’s going to change is if you think about the correct method while practicing (or brushing your teeth, as the case may be).

The one constant, whether in viola technique or tooth brushing, is a desire to achieve a long-term end goal. With that, we can chip away at an ingrained habit and eventually change it to something that will serve us better.

Happy practicing!